2013-05-07    Slavery and Fair Trade     

Not long ago I met a young Hong Kong Chinese man who, in order to keep his job,  is forced to work many long hours of overtime, and for very low overtime wages. Local residents are only too aware that such a situation is common not just in Hong Kong, but especially in Mainland factories.

Such forced work is a type of slavery. But it's not as bad as the case of the recent factory building which collapsed in Bangladesh, killing more than 400 workers, most of them women and children. Those workers were paid less than US$2 per day and had to work in terrible conditions. Even when the building was showing signs of collapse, they were ordered into the building if they wanted to keep their jobs.

The factory was producing cheap clothes, just like many factories in China. The workers were so poor that they put up with the low wages and harsh conditions in order to get money for their families. But the factory owners and clothing companies were making large profits, selling their goods in mainly developed countries for high prices.

This is called "unfair trade" and has led to many groups starting Fair Trade shops around the world, at which goods are sold for a fair price for the workers. Hong Kong has several such shops and also many centres which sell items with the "Fair Trade" label.  "Hong Kong Fair Trade" in Google will find them.  Supporting them is one way to do something about slavery in places like Bangladesh